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Juventus late fightback downs Inter for crucial title edge

Jump for joy: Juventus' Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado celebrates the dramatic 3-2 win
AFP

Milan (AFP) – Juventus battled past ten-man Inter Milan with two late goals giving the champions a 3-2 win in the San Siro on Saturday to reopen a four-point lead at the top of the Serie A table.

Inter looked as if they would pull off an unlikely victory as the hosts led until three minutes from the whistle despite playing over 70 minutes a man down after Matias Vecino was sent off.

But Milan Skriniar turned the ball into his own net after 87 minutes with Gonzalo Higuain heading in the winner two minutes later. 

“We lost at the last minute, but this time we turned it around with hunger, pride, thirst for victory,” said Higuain in reference to last week’s 1-0 loss to second-placed Napoli.

“It looked as if it was over, like against Napoli it looked as if it was going to end in a draw and we lost. It’s a very important win for the title and there are another three matches to go. It’s a great confidence booster.”

Juventus’ lead had been cut to one point after their defeat by Napoli in Turin last week.

Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli travel to Fiorentina on Sunday bidding to match the champions and keep their push for a third title after 1987 and 1990 alive.

Saturday’s defeat damages Inter’s hopes of Champions League football next season as they stay fifth behind Roma and Lazio with just three games to play.

Douglas Costa fired in the opener for Juventus after 13 minutes following a cross from Juan Cuadrado. Minutes later Vecino was shown red for a foul on Mario Mandzukic.

Juventus thought they had scored a second just before half-time but the VAR showed Blaise Matuidi was offside when he found the net.

Mauro Icardi then headed in the equaliser for Inter seven minutes after the break for his 27th goal this season, and the hosts took the lead when the ball bounced in off Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli.

But Juventus turned it around and after Skriniar’s own goal Higuain headed in from close range.

In a bizarre finish, Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri was sent to the stands for coming onto the pitch to celebrate.

– Roma warm up for Liverpool –

Earlier ten-man Roma warmed-up for next week’s must-win Champions League clash with Liverpool by easing to a 4-1 win over struggling Chievo to consolidate third place.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are three points ahead of Lazio who play Torino on Sunday with Inter staying a further point back in fifth.

Edin Dzeko scored in either half with Patrik Schick and Stephan El Shaarawy also on target as Roma overran the side from Verona despite being a man down after Juan Jesus saw red ten minutes into the second half.

“This game was important for next season and Champions League qualification, so we had to win,” said Dzeko.

“It wasn’t easy after the red card but thanks to Alisson we didn’t concede a penalty and we could have scored a few more goals.”

Roma next face Liverpool in the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday where they have to overturn a 5-2 first-leg deficit to advance to the final.

“We have to recover our physical and mental energy, leave the pitch on Wednesday knowing we’ve done all we possibly could,” said Di Francesco.

“We’ve proved in the past that we can achieve great results in the Champions League, so we must all believe.”

Roma took the lead when Radja Nainggolan crossed to Schick after nine minutes with Dzeko volleying in a second five minutes before the break off a Aleksandar Kolarov centre.

The hosts dominated even after Brazilian defender Juan Jesus was sent off for fouling Inglese and Alisson saved the resulting penalty, with El Shaarawy and Dzeko adding two more within ten minutes.

Inglese headed in a consolation goal for Chievo three minutes from the end, but they remain two points above the drop zone.

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